In Ramallah, U.S. Lawmakers Slam Abbas over Terrorist Pay-for-Slay

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting of the Palestinian National Council at his compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, April 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
AP/Majdi Mohammed

Ten U.S. Congress members met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah last week in what they said was a “tense” discussion that involved a dressing down over the PA’s so-called payforslay policy rewarding terrorists and their families, the Times of Israel reported on Wednesday.

The report cited one congressperson, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as describing the closed-door meeting as “tense at times, as it was clear that we didn’t see eye to eye on a number of issues.”

As Breitbart reported, Abbas last month ordered that the family of a Palestinian terrorist who murdered two Israelis be paid $42,000 and be given new houses, marking the first high-profile payments to terrorist families since the Biden administration took office, and running counter to claims made by senior Palestinian officials that the policy would be revisited as part of an effort to rebuild severed ties with Washington.

In fact, not only was the policy not revisited, a new report released last week said 2020 saw an increase of $83,000 paid out as part of the policy, bringing the total annual amount awarded to convicted terrorists and their families to $182.82 million.

The Palestinians view the money as a form of welfare and a national responsibility and Abbas has in the past vowed his government will continue to pay salaries to terrorists and their families even if “we have only a penny left.”

Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), who was at the meeting, said a “great deal of discussion” took place on the Taylor Force Act, which was passed by Congress during the Trump administration and halted U.S. aid to the PA on the basis of pay-for-slay.

According to the current policy, terrorists who are serving out sentences in Israeli jails receive stipends in accordance with the severity of their crime – the more Israelis they murdered, the more money they receive.

“We emphasized that such payments are completely and totally unacceptable,” the report quoted Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) as saying.

According to the congress members, Abbas defended the policy by saying that the families of terrorists would be rendered penniless without it. The congress members then countered with the argument that similar stipends were not currently being offered to families where one parent dies of cancer.

Abbas further asked the Trump-led Abraham Accords in which Israel signed normalization agreements with Arab and Muslim states not be developed further until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was solved, Schneider told the Times of Israel.

“We were clear that normalization is good for the region, including the Palestinians,” Schneider said. “We said it would continue, that the Palestinians should take the opportunity to move it forward, rather than resist and hold it back.”

He added: “Abbas is considered out of touch with the Palestinian people and has demonstrated over the years an unwillingness to make the hard choices.”

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